Now that we’re clear of Lewis Hamilton clinching the 2018 Formula One championship and had some time to digest it, the question that always comes up in the heat of the moment still rings just as important, can Hamilton surpass Michael Schumacher as the best ever?
Hamilton, just tied Juan Manuel Fangio for second most F1 championships ever at five. He now only trails Schumacher by three in the world championship department. His 71 wins are 20 shy of Schumacher for most ever too.
The fact that we’re got two witness two once in a generation drivers back-to-back is extremely satisfying. If Hamilton never wins another Grand Prix or world championship, he’d still rank as one of the best ever. But, that’s not the glitz and glamor that makes up this England native. He wants the title as THE best ever and the numbers say that he can accomplish that feat very soon.
Think about it, 49 of Hamilton’s 71 career wins have come since 2014. So have four of his five titles. Mercedes has been that dominant and I don’t think that window necessarily closes in 2019 either.
He’s won an average of 9.8 races per season over this five year reign. He won 11 races in 2014, 10 more in 2015 and again in 2016 and nine in each of the last two years. There are still two races left in 2018, so he could push that mark to double digit victories in four in the last five seasons.
If he can replicate this feat over the next two seasons then Schumacher’s record could fall in 2020. At the rate he’s winning championships, he could have some company that season too.
Realistically, by the end of the 2022 season, at the very latest, Hamilton could eclipse every major F1 statistical record. He has two years remaining on his current contract and will have a top ride to do so.
Plus, there’s this, F1 is in a transition of a youth wave. A second year driver will be in a Ferrari next season. Odds are that he won’t necessarily compete for a ton of wins over the next couple of years. A second year driver will join Red Bull Racing too. Both drivers are in the same boat. Daniel Ricciardo and Kimi Raikkonen joins teams that haven’t won races in years.
Valtteri Bottas hasn’t exactly dominated in the wins category since joining Mercedes either. That makes only Sebastian Vettel and Max Verstappen as Hamilton’s top threats at winning races between now and the end of 2020. Who’s to say he won’t win more than 10 races in the next couple of seasons each.
Hamilton’s best days may still yet be ahead.